A prose ode to the intimacy of writing in the second person in a bar – written, of course, in second person.

“Pay Attention: The Use of Second Person” by Kathy Fish is a terrific quick and dirty essay on the benefits of second person point of view. Fish cites the “weightiness” of second person, deriving from the fact that it’s a departure from the traditional modes of storytelling: 

“Think about it: This is not how we tell a story orally! It powerfully conveys a sense of both intimacy and universality. This story could be about you or me or all of us. Direct and compelling, it is the literary equivalent of making good eye contact. You are saying to the reader: Pay attention.”

Hugh Behm-Steinberg’s 2015 Barthelme Prize story “Taylor Swift” is all of the things contest judge Steve Almond says it is, funny and spell-binding. What I noticed when reading this is how right the second person point of view feels for the subject matter, endowing it with just the right touch of whimsy that might otherwise come off as creepy in first or third person.

In “Immigrants on Vacation,” the second person point of view puts the reader in the car with the narrator, making us privy to their discomfort in the face of indignity as well conveys a sense of detachment on the part of the narrator that might come across as judgmental in first or third person

Richard Siken’s “A Primer for Small Weird Loves” uses the second person beautifully – creating detachment for the speaker and simultaneously pulling the reader into the series of intimacies.–aeaea/14965.html?

Finally, here’s the end result of that long-ago exercise from graduate school, published first in Brevity and later in my book Sad Math. The rocket ship art that accompanies my flash was the cherry on the sundae.